Week 9 of the college football season is here, and there’s still a glaring lack of clarity in a few Group of Five conference title races. That should make for an exciting month of November, but first, we have one weekend of October college football remaining.
It should be a good one across the Group of Five, and I’ll highlight five games I believe are worth watching at the level. As a reminder, college football betting odds help guide which games make the list.
5. San Diego State at Fresno State
Each team sits at 2-1 in league play, meaning the winner moves to 3-1 (math!), and would sit atop the Mountain West’s West Division. While neither team is a lock to even make a bowl game – Fresno State is 3-4 and San Diego State is 4-3 – each team remains in the conference title hunt given the struggles across the Mountain West this fall.
This game doesn’t pin elite teams against each other, but it has a meaningful conference impact. It’s unclear when Fresno State star quarterback Jake Haener might return from injury, but the Bulldogs have shown they’re still deep enough to compete in the conference. San Diego State is offensively challenged, but the defense makes it a constant threat.
4. North Texas at Western Kentucky
North Texas hung close with UTSA last weekend, but ultimately lost 31-27. The Mean Green don’t get a schedule reprieve this week, playing against another top-tier C-USA squad. Each team sits at 3-1 in league play and UTSA is sitting pretty at 4-0 in conference action with wins over both North Texas and Western Kentucky. Facing a deficit in the standings, this game is arguably a must-win for each team if they want to keep their conference championship hopes alive.
3. East Carolina at BYU
East Carolina comes into this game after steamrolling UCF 34-13, giving Mike Houston a signature win as ECU’s head coach. Can Houston’s team keep the momentum going by winning at BYU on Friday night?
Playing at BYU is a huge challenge, but the Cougars aren’t playing their best football, having just lost to Liberty 41-14. They could use a bounce-back win, while East Carolina can secure bowl eligibility with a victory.
2. Coastal Carolina at Marshall
This game has important Sun Belt East implications, as Coastal Carolina is 3-1 in league play. Marshall is just 1-2, but a 26-12 win over JMU last weekend has the Thundering Herd back on track. Marshall plays Coastal Carolina and App State at home down the stretch of the season, so it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that Marshall works its way back into the conference title hunt.
Coastal Carolina needs a bounce-back performance after losing 49-21 to Old Dominion two weeks ago. The Chanticleers were on bye last weekend.
1. Cincinnati at UCF
UCF getting smoked by East Carolina dampens some of the excitement surrounding this game, but it’s still one of the biggest AAC games of the year. Each program will soon leave for the Big 12, but first, they’re in a heated race to win the AAC title. Cincinnati has a few major tests left on its schedule, with games against UCF, Tulane, and ECU still ahead of it. UCF can’t afford to drop a second conference game in as many weeks.
This is a huge showdown in the best Group of Five conference in the country. It’s must-watch TV this weekend.